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World travels lead jeweler back home

Amanda Fehd
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / As a casino worker Joey Chacon would work six days a week then travel for the three-month shoulder season.
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Joey Chacon, 70, is the owner of J.P. Chadom Jewelers and has been living at Lake Tahoe for almost 50 years. A world traveler, he speaks five languages: English, Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese. After working 25 years in the casino industry, he opened his shop in Stateline to spice up his retirement. He says he is known for his great sense of humor.

Q: How long have you been in Tahoe?

A: Since 1955. I first saw Lake Tahoe in 1952 and I went back to Sacramento and graduated from California Highway Patrol Academy. I graduated and was going to be a CHiP, but Harrah’s offered me work, so I took the job at Harrah’s. Between Harrah’s and the Sahara, I put 25 years in the gambling business. I started out as a dealer and ended up in top management.



Q: What is your family heritage?

A: I am full-blooded Indian. My grandparents were born in a reservation in Wounded Knee, Idaho, and my parents were children when they moved to Colorado.



Q: How did you come to know so many languages?

A: I’ve traveled around the world. I’ve been to five continents: South America, Europe, Middle East, the Far East, all 50 states and their capitals.

Q: What took you to these places?

A: Curiosity.

Q: How were you able to take the time to travel?

A: I used to work the casinos six days a week and I would take 90 days vacation, and I took advantage of that opportunity to go travel the world. I would take September, October and November off. That was the slow season.

Q: What was the most fascinating place for you?

A: I’d say Europe. The Greek Isles, those were the places I liked the most.

China was a place I went to, just to see the Great Wall. And while I was there I was invited to have lunch with other American dignitaries in the Great White Hall in Beijing on Tianamen Square.

It’s not that I’m a great person, it’s just that I’ve been lucky all my life. Everywhere I go, I meet people who show me all these things.

Q: How has Tahoe changed the most since you’ve been here?

A: I used to drive down Highway 50 and there would be signs for 5 and 10 acres plots for $100 down payment and $40 a month.

The first sign I saw when I entered Nevada was “welcome to Nevada, a state with no sales tax, no income tax,” and it just sounded like “welcome to the Wild West where everything is free here.” It was comforting.

The biggest shock was that Nevada is not the only state that’s got legalized gambling anymore, and that took a lot away from this state.

Q: How did you end up opening your shop, J.P. Chadom Jewelers?

A: After I retired from the casino life, I found out I had to do something to preoccupy myself. I’ve been open four days a week for 18 years. Now we are open all five days, including Wednesdays. We take appointments on Saturdays.

Q: How did you develop an interest in jewelry?

A: I have always loved jewelry, because I love to wear nice watches and rings. I didn’t know I could pick up another career in my 50s. It’s been a lot of fun and it certainly has enhanced my retirement. I’ve been to the diamond mines in Africa, I’ve been to Belgium to watch them cut the diamonds.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: During the Second World War, we moved to Sacramento.

Q: Did you ever think when you were growing up that you would be here doing this?

A: No. As a small child, I was so poor, I never thought I was going to amount to something. So life has been good to me. God has been good to me.

Young people don’t think too much about the power of God and prayer, but as you get older, you start getting smarter.

When I was in high school, I was a rebel without a cause. My classmates joked that I would end up a prison inmate. And by the 10th class reunion, they realized that I was as successful as the rest of them. It felt good to get that acknowledgment.

Q: Do you have children?

A: Yes, I have one son, Joey Chacon Jr., and he has two sons, Nicholas, and Joey Chacon III, who is 25 years old, married. His first born was a baby girl and that’s the first time we’ve had a daughter in my line of the family.

Q: When did you become religious?

A: Once, when I was a child, I went to stay with my grandmother. And before we went to bed, she sat me down to pray. That was the first time I prayed.

My grandmother told me, if you do this every night, if you make the sign of the cross, and you thank God for what you have and you thank Him for how lucky you are, you will have a good life. And I have.


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